Fitness on a Budget

Don’t you love how great you feel when you work out regularly?

You’re alert, you sleep better, and it’s easier to stay calm and optimistic. Once you get in the routine of working out and keeping a healthy routine, it’s fun.

But there’s always something that stops you. For most of us, it’s either time or money. We don’t have time, and gym memberships are too expensive.

Let’s imagine a dream solution. You want the fitness tools you find in a gym but you want to do it at home so it’s convenient. You want aerobics, strength and stretching so you have a good holistic workout.

And most importantly, you don’t want to spend more than $50 on any piece of equipment.

Can you build a home gym with that budget?

The Best Home Gym Equipment for Less than $50

Suspension Trainer ($30 – $165)

The core of an affordable home gym is a good suspension trainer. A suspension trainer has 2 straps with handles and foot cradles, usually fixed to a single point. Many come with a door attachment so you don’t need to put a hook in your wall.

When you use a suspension trainer, you use your body weight for resistance. You lean in or out on the straps, increasing or decreasing the difficulty depending on the angle of your body.

For a single piece of equipment, it’s hard to beat a suspension trainer. They have a wide range of exercises that work your upper body, lower body and core. Everyone can use them, from beginner to professional athlete. You can isolate individual muscle groups or do complex exercises that use your whole body. There are even exercises that have twists and stretches.

Some suspension trainers are expensive, but if you do your research there are many affordable brands for less than $50. Make sure you buy a brand with strong, reliable clasps so when you hang your weight on the straps they don’t slip.

Resistance Tubes ($10 – $40)

Resistance tubes are another great strength building piece of equipment. These elastic tubes can be used for a variety of exercises for both your upper and lower body.

Have you noticed that the elastic of resistance tubes functions similarly to the springs in Pilates equipment? With a little ingenuity, you can use your tubes for many Pilates exercises.

Balance Board/Stability Trainer ($17 – $45)

Balance is an important part of physical strength and becomes even more important as you age. Luckily your balance will increase the more you practice.

A stability trainer is another piece of equipment that you can use at any fitness level. In the beginning it may be enough just to stand on the trainer without wobbling. Once you have that mastered, try closing your eyes or standing on one foot. Eventually experiment with doing your entire workout routine on the stability trainer. Even the simplest exercise becomes difficult when you have to maintain your balance.

Jump Rope ($3 – $30)

Every gym needs aerobics equipment and a jump rope can’t be beat when it comes to getting your heart pumping. If you haven’t jumped rope since you were a kid, you’ll be surprised about how challenging it can be.

Once you have your rhythm mastered, there are many ways to make jumping rope interesting. Try jumping double time, backward, high stepping or back kicking. Put “jump rope tricks” into YouTube to get more ideas.

Chin-up Bar ($14 – $65)

Of course a chin-up bar is great for chin-ups.  It’s a great tool for building upper body and core strength.

But chin-up bars are good for your home gym for another reason–they are a great anchor for other equipment.  You can attach suspension trainers, resistance tubing and yoga belts to the bar to get even more exercise options.

There are two basic styles of chin-up bars.  One style hangs from the upper door molding and the other type has fittings that you screw into the door jamb.  When you choose a style, be sure to check the weight restrictions.

Foam Roller ($12 – $35)

Foam rollers are a great addition to your home gym for two reasons.

First of all, the roller can be used to massage sore muscles and release tension. They stretch and release tightness and are very beneficial for preventing injury. With some creativity, you can roll and massage most muscle groups.

Foam rollers can also be used to build core strength and increase the difficulty of many Pilates mat exercises. If you place the roller vertically under your spine, even warm-up exercises become challenging.

You don’t need a special room with expensive equipment to have a robust workout in your home. For less than $50, you can get exercise equipment that gives you a good workout, that grows with you as your strength and skill increases and that provides a wide range of activities so you never get bored. And most of these items store easily in a small closet.

Don’t let your misconceptions about gyms stop you from working out. It’s easy to get started. The biggest step is to decide to do it.

I’ll be happy to give you more tips and tricks on working out at home. Contact me today for ideas.

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Acupuncture Helps Repair Brain Damage from Drug Use

There have been several reports before of research and theories about the usefulness of acupuncture in treating addiction but few have yielded concrete proof, that is until now. A recent study found that acupuncture at the Zusanli point significantly decreased the activation of heroin cues in the brain. Heroin cues are responsible for inducing sensations linked to reward and craving in the mind and the acupuncture used in this study quickly suppressed these sensations.

Drug addiction and abuse is a serious problem for a lot of people and overcoming that addiction sometimes seems insurmountable but this research proves that acupuncture can be an essential part of rehabilitation.
Links to the Articles:
– www.nrronline.org/article.asp?issn=1673-5374;year=2012;volume=7;issue=33;spage=2607;epage=2616;aulast=Cai;type=0

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What the Heck is ‘Cupping’??

“Cupping” may sound strange, but practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have healed people with this method since 300AD (4). According to Dr. Kaleem Ullah, secretary of the British Cupping Society, “Cupping Therapy is an ancient medical treatment that relies upon creating a local suction to mobilize blood flow in order to promote healing” (3).Cupping can provide relief for migraines, muscular tension, respiratory diseases, digestive diseases, and chronic pain, among other conditions.

In Ge Hong’s A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, the earliest recorded mention of cupping from the early fourth century, a hollowed-out horn was the recommended tool of choice. A lot has changed since this technique’s inception; modern practitioners use glass, bamboo, and pottery cups to create the healing suction. During a typical session, a cotton ball soaked in alcohol is burned inside the cup, removing all oxygen and creating a vacuum that anchors the cup to the skin. Other methods are also used to create suction, such as holding the cup over a small flame and using a hand pump instead of fire. Flame is never used near the skin, only to create suction.

Once the cups are placed on the proper areas of the body, the cups are slid across oiled skin. The effect is much like a “reverse massage”; skin and superficial muscle are gently pulled into the cup, which loosens muscles and encourages better blood flow, among other positive effects. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, “Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected material” (4). The cups are placed along the meridians of the body to target specific maladies, like in acupuncture, which is often administered alongside the cupping procedure. If you experience chronic conditions that keep you from living your best, there’s only health to gain by trying this non-invasive, low-risk treatment.

Sources: 1. Dharmananda, Subhuti, Ph.D. Institute for Traditional Medicine, “Cupping.” Last modified March 1999. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cupping.htm.

2. Ullah, Kaleem, Ph.D. British Cupping Society, “A Brief Overview of Cupping Therapy.” Last modified May 15, 2011. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.britishcuppingsociety.org/http:/www.britishcuppingsociety.org/a-brief-overview-of-cupping-therapy.

4. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, “The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping.” Last modified June 17, 2009. Accessed February 3, 2014. http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/677-the-many-benefits-of-chinese-cupping.html.

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How to Wean from Caffeine

Food for Mind, Body, Spirit
How to Wean from Caffeine
Many people rely on caffeine to get started in the morning or keep going in the afternoon. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and many other products. It is generally considered safe when used in moderation. However, if you are sensitive to caffeine or take in large amounts, you may find yourself suffering from side effects including insomnia, tremors, increased blood pressure, and heart palpitations.
So how do you kick the habit? It can be tough, but if you follow these tips, you can cut down or even completely cut caffeine out of your diet.
Start slowly: Begin by gradually decreasing your caffeine intake. Drink fewer cups of coffee or skip that extra soda. Once you’ve done this successfully, go even further by switching to half-decaf coffee, tea, or diluted soda. Allow yourself at least a couple of weeks to reach your goal.
Treat side effects: Caffeine withdrawal often causes headaches and fatigue. Soothe headaches with herbs, over-the-counter remedies or acupuncture. Ease fatigue by getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet. Extra doses of vitamin C and potassium may be beneficial. Herbs such as ginseng may also be helpful, and remember to stay hydrated.
Take care of yourself: Treat your body well by exercising regularly for a natural energy boost. Consider adding meditation to your daily schedule to improve your concentration.
I hope you find this helpful, and remember, I am always here to help.

References:
Doheny, Kathleen. “Pros and Cons of the Caffeine Craze.” WebMD. October 17, 2006.
Schiffke, Heather. “The Health Benefits of Tea.” Acupuncture.com. August 2005. http://acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_aug05/main1.htm

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It is HOT HOT HOT!!

Little Falls, MN:  Is the HOT weather making your pain WORSE??

Your body uses pain as an alarm to alert you to CHANGE something that you are doing or to START doing something that you are NOT doing.

Inflammation is a huge factor in many (if not all) pain disorders which is characterized as REDNESS and SWELLING…which are both signs of heat!!

Would you use heat to put out a fire?? …. OF COURSE NOT!!

Inflammatory heat becomes irritated during these hot months because of the fact that Mother Nature is basically throwing fire at your own internal fire (inflammation)!

So if you are anything like me and HATE pain, follow this insanely simple tip…it is so simple that it is mind boggling……

 

Keep your body cool.

 

This is where you START doing something that you are NOT doing…eating the right foods!

Foods have amazing power to nourish our bodies and to keep us functioning the way were designed to (flawlessly).  Add the following foods (at least some) into your meals during the summer months to help keep your insides cool and to keep your pain at bay!!

 

Grapefruit (best eaten in the morning, it also increases your metabolism)

Frozen Grapes (you can use them as you ‘ice cubes’ too)

Kiwi

Lemons ( Drink lemon water 15 minutes BEFORE breakfast to balance out the pH of your stomach which will help you digest better)

Watermelon

Alfalfa Sprouts (add to your salad or sandwich)

Bamboo Shoots (put into your stir fry)

Deep Greens (kale, spinach, mustard greens, beet tops)

Cucumber

Chicken Eggs

Crab Meat (real, not imitation)

Seaweed (I know, a little different, especially good in a sushi roll)

Salt (not just any salt!! Must be “real salt’ or Himalayan Salt, the more pink color the more minerals it contains!!)

Green Tea ( yes it is true green tea has properties that COOL you down not heat you up!  Brew yourself a cup and add some frozen grapes to make it even cooler)

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